Community-Based Rangeland Rehabilitation (CBRR)
RBG Jordan: A Young Garden
Traditional pastoral families have inhabited and worked the land within and surrounding the site of the Royal Botanic Garden (RBG) of Jordan for generations. When the RBG was founded in 2005, it had to fence off an area of land that local livestock owners had previously used for grazing. In response, herders began cutting the fence to take their animals inside the site illegally. To find mutually beneficial solutions, the RBG held community meetings and established the Community-Based Rangeland Rehabilitation (CBRR) project.
Herders workshop © RBG Jordan
The project works to improve the livelihoods of herding families while conserving and regenerating biodiversity within the Garden’s grounds and throughout the surrounding rangelands. Community involvement is fundamental to build trust, acceptance and a mutually beneficial partnership of land management.
- Community engagement & conflict resolution
- Improving flock productivity
- Training for alternative livelihoods
- Assessing site sustainability & protecting biodiversity
- Local knowledge: traditional plant use & herding practices
Duration: Ongoing since 2007
The CBRR team first offered free barley to livestock owners in exchange for them not grazing their flocks on RBG land. Meanwhile, vegetation surveys, biomass estimates and grazing behaviour studies were conducted.
Amongst other things, these studies found that spring grazing was preventing plants from seeding the earth, perpetuating a cycle of land degradation. It was also noted that when lush vegetation was available, sheep were satisfied after just a few hours of grazing.
Based on the collected data, the CBRR team developed managed grazing plans that have led to a significant rise in biomass and plant diversity on formerly overgrazed land, while allowing herders to graze their flocks inside the RBG site on a supervised basis. Managed grazing regimes take pressure off the environment, allowing the land to re-generate naturally.
Managed grazing © RBG Jordan
The team also work hand-in-hand with the local community, hosting workshops to advise, train, listen, and facilitate communication. In particular, the CBRR provides training on herd management, family hygiene, herd health, and feed supplements. Two local individuals have been trained as para-veterinarians, to assist the CBRR veterinarian in recognizing diseases, controlling parasites, administering vaccinations, distributing low-cost medicines, and updating a herd recording system.
Parallel to its work with livestock owners, the CBRR has also implemented micro-projects with local families to encourage sustainable livelihoods, develop alternative income sources and empower women. So far (2013), a dozen families have received training in production of honey, sun-dried yogurt or jameed, and mushrooms for culinary and medicinal use. Women receive additional training in sewing and handicrafts, reducing marginalization by offering income sources separate to those of men within the community.
Community group training © RBG Jordan
Such training ensures that families are no longer solely dependent on sheep and goat herding for income, addressing chronic poverty and lack of opportunity; in 2012, net profits from honey production exceeded $3,600, a significant sum for families in this poor area. Additionally, the introduction of shared business ventures has helped cultivate a sense of community pride, and, by offering alternatives to livestock herding, the micro-projects indirectly support biomass regeneration and reduce land degradation.
Bedouin woman grinds medicinal herbs © RBG Jordan Family visit © RBG Jordan
Participation in the CBRR project rose from 5 local families in 2007 to 38 in 2013. Within two short years, livestock owners who once grazed the site down to bare earth were policing themselves and others to protect the rapidly reviving rangeland ecosystem. Local community members who were once very much against the establishment of the RBG are now firm supporters of the garden and ambassadors for rangeland rehabilitation and biodiversity conservation.
The CBRR’s managed grazing plans have caused a return of profuse vegetation to RBG land, helping to mitigate erosion, biodiversity loss and drought. Biomass surveys found that the site’s biomass increased by thirty percent from 2008 to 2009, a further thirty percent from 2009 to 2010, and ten percent per year thereafter. In six years, the number of wild plant species on site increased by over a hundred.
Herd management © RBG Jordan
Hygiene training has helped improve the health of local families. By the end of 2012, the CBRR team had vaccinated and treated approximately 10,000 head of sheep and goats. Sheep herds have become healthier and more productive, with lambing rates rising from 40% to 60% in 2007, to between 85% and 97% per flock in 2012. This not only indicates better herd health, but also heralded a significant rise in herders’ incomes.
The CBRR was recognized as a 2012 Katerva Award nominee. It published a study in the Pastoralism Journal in May 2012 on livestock, medicinal plants and rangeland viability, and has other papers currently awaiting publication. The CBRR’s work in the last five years has led to the development of a model for community development that can be adopted by other communities, the government, NGOs and international agencies. The CBRR has been recognized as an authority in the field and has been approached by several groups, including a world heritage site committee, interested in applying CBRR practices in their communities.
Community visit to the Garden © RBG Jordan
The impact of the CBRR project is apparent on many levels. Not only has the work of the CBRR been instrumental in the regrowth of biomass and the return of a wider diversity of native plants to the RBG site, but also it has had a marked effect on community spirit. The CBRR has brought hope for the future. Young people now have more prospects for earning a living locally, and are no longer feeling the need to move to larger urban areas.
Several local participants in the CBRR programme have bought land, are building homes, and are making concrete plans for the future. Healthier and more productive sheep and goat herds are providing better products for market, while yielding higher incomes for livestock owners. While still in their early stages, the alternative income generating micro-projects should continue to grow and offer more opportunities. In addition, local people have an increased awareness of the importance of conserving biodiversity and managing the rangeland appropriately.
School children visit the Garden © RBG Jordan CBRR presentation at Hima workshop, Kuwait, 2012 © RBG Jordan
The success of the CBRR project is being judged on the basis of positive community response, good feedback from representatives of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature (RSCN) and other groups of visitors, nomination for a Katerva award, and publication of results in several scientific journals. Read RBG Jordan’s most recent paper, Ethnobotanical Study of Medicinal Plants Commonly Used by Local Bedouins in the Badia Region of Jordan, published in the 2013 edition of Journal of Ethnopharmacology.
The CBRR addresses issues that are not limited to localized pastoral communities, as rangeland degradation is a chronic and nearly ubiquitous challenge in the semi-arid land of Jordan. The next step is to extend the CBRR project to different areas of the country, as it may well prove to be part of the solution to the growing problem of climate change in the region.
CBRR project at RBG Jordan
PRACTITIONERS, PARTNERS & SPONSORS
Dr Mustafa Al-Shudiefat, Researcher, RBG Jordan
Dr Raed Al Tabini, Rangeland Expert, RBG Jordan
Tariq Abu Taleb, Executive Director, RBG JordanEng. Khalid Al-Khalidi
, Project Coordinator, RBG Jordan
United Nations Compensation Committee
Higher Council for Science and Technology
Ministries of Agriculture and Environment, Jordan
Badia Research and Development Center
National Center for Agricultural Research and Extension (NCARE)
Association Française de Développement (French Development Association)
Fonds Français pour l’Environnement Mondial (French Fund for the Global Environment)